Exploring Public Perception of Early Childhood English Education through Online News Comments
On December 27, 2017, the Ministry of Education in Korea published a policy intended to ban English education in public kindergartens and day-care centers. The policy instantly sparked a strong backlash from the public, who voiced concerns and opposition to it in online news comments. This study analyzed 5,815 online news comments to identify public perception of the ban in particular and early childhood English education in general. The findings revealed that the number of opponents of the ban was much larger than that of supporters (85.1% vs. 14.9%). The opponents disapproved the ban for the following reasons. First, the ban would make parents turn to private education and eventually end up widening the gap between those who can afford it and those who cannot. Second, the ban clearly infringes on the basic right to get an education. Third, English is being taught through play-based curriculum, which causes little stress and emotional burdens for children despite the concerns of the government. On the other hand, the supporters underscored the role of parents and the importance of children's native tongue to back up their arguments for the ban. Overall, this study may provide insights about how to utilize online news comments to study public perception of English education.